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What is the solution to world poverty? Australian philosopher Peter Singer believes he has the answer. In his essay “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” Singer argues that we are all in the moral wrong if we don’t do all in our power to save the lives of those in poverty, which would require some us to give away more than half of our income. Peter Singer is correct in his argument that people do not give enough to the poor; however, his ideas on how to end world poverty are too extreme, and rather than focusing on showing love and building connections, his incentive to donate is to make ourselves feel guilt-free.
Peter Singer, in his essay, addresses the crucial matter that more people can make a difference and save lives, but they fail to do so. Rather than donating $200 or even $20 to “help a sickly two-year-old transform into a healthy six-year-old,” most people spend their surplus wealth on unneeded luxuries (Singer 875). Money that could have been donated to save someone’s life goes to new games or new clothes. The social media is constantly pushing us to buy more stuff to make ourselves, look, feel, or just “live better”. These items clutter homes and are never used again. Not enough promotions are made to help others in need. The idea that we can use our money to save a life instead of constantly helping ourselves is a good one to remember when we make a purchase. We have to draw the line between what is useful and what is just a waste and can be done without. Jesus, in the Bible, spoke many times of where our finances should be spent. He states that we should store our “treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We should spend our money on things that matter and have a lasting effect. Our heart follows our money, so let’s invest our money in the right places.
In addition to offering financial assistance to others in need, we should never forget to sacrifice our time, and make a daily attempt to help someone out in their lives. We can do more then we realize. Even though it is easy to get caught up in our daily hassles, we sometimes have to stop and take a look at the people around us. We get so self-involved that we forget the effect we can have on other people’s lives. When we finally see how much we can help, our hearts will easily open up, as well as our wallets. Small gestures locally in our communities can go a long way. The time we spend with a child or a senior citizen can bring great inspiration. Items that are little to no use to us can be donated to those who are in need for them, such as the homeless or those suffering financially. The small sacrifices can make an impact and perhaps save lives.
Though Peter Singer makes a vital argument, his ideas on how to solve world poverty are impossible and should not be taken literal. It should only motivate us to do more, and not to give away all of our excess money. We live in a first-world country, and though $30,000 may cover for only our “essential needs” for a year, we depend upon more than necessities to really live and enjoy life as God made it (Singer 879). Life is about more than being able to breathe and carry on. It is about being able to prosper, achieve dreams, and find joy through the beauty and the deeper meaning of life. Finding our interests, hobbies, goals, and talents is what makes us unique. It is how God made us, and we should not have to give up the joys of life in order to have an impact on someone else’s life.
Singer gave the example of going out to eat with our partner as being an unneeded luxury. Though it is good to sometimes put our money to better use, we should not deny ourselves a little luxury from time to time. We should not feel guilty for trying to enjoy a meal, while building our relationship with our partner, or anyone else for that matter. In addition to the emotional benefit, the money we spend on the meal supports the business, and the economy in the long-run. The restaurant creates jobs, which supports the employees and their families. Also the opportunity to be able to create exquisite foods supports someone’s culinary dreams and joy in life. Our money is what keeps businesses going and builds up the economy. It brings attention to an art or an innovative idea, and it is what keeps our country strong. Let’s look at the great depression, or any recession we have had. The lack of money flowing around brings consequences on the economy. The less money we have to spend, the more businesses close down. Unemployment increases, and people are left in poverty barely making ends meet. We will not be of much help to people in other countries if we have our own financial crisis. However, we should spend our income wisely so we can be able to bring about a renaissance of ideas and actions, both through other organizations and in our own families.
Our excess money goes to support our family and our own well-being. Buying gifts for our family is a way to show we love and care for them. We save money for both our future and for theirs. We work hard to give our families as comfortable and stress-fee life as possible. That is the highlight of the American Dream. Money and luxuries motivate us to work hard. Why should we struggle for a raise or promotion at our jobs, if only to end up with the same amount of money in our pockets? Also, our excess money supports our health. Usually, the more money you have, the better you live, and the better your health is. Extra money goes to the right kinds of food, healthy hobbies or fitness classes, and it also buys us the materials and time needed to give our bodies a little extra care and attention. Our extra money should be used to show love for ourselves, our family, and others.
Helping out the people in third-world countries is essential; however, Peter Singer never brings up the most important reason why we should help out another human being. We should do it out of the love. Caring for others pulls us closer together. But should we only show love to those in other countries? Building connections with people through love is the same whether it is with our next door neighbor, or a child in Bangladesh. Our families and friends come first, because if we don’t show them the love and attention they require then the point that we gave money to a foreign aid organization does not have any real moral value. We can still be considered selfish and cold-hearted. When we give money or even help someone out, we should always remember the reason we are doing it. We shouldn’t do it out of guilt, but out of love and compassion. There are many ways to show our love and compassion that doesn’t always require donating money. When we donate our time to help a ministry of our community, sometimes, no amount of money can compare to the effect it can have on a life. Also, donating a meal, clothing, or other essentials can be more meaningful then cash, and we can rest assured that our money isn’t being corrupted.
Another way we can show our love without having to donate money is by even volunteering our time in foreign countries to provide aid and education. World poverty will not be solved only through money. We can’t just throw money at the problem. The underlying problems have to be solved. America wasn’t built up by donations but by hard work and opportunities. The way to fight world poverty is by creating opportunities for jobs and money.
Though Peter Singer brings up some very strong and important points about helping out the less fortunate in this world, with everything there needs to be balance. We should not feel guilty every time we use our money on ourselves or our loved ones. Jesus states in the Bible, “the poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me” (Mark 14:7). We should apply this to our families and those around us. We should take care and love them first for they are our first priority. Then we should help those in other countries. However, this does not mean we should spend our money and time frivolously. We should remember to only commit our energy toward things that edify our spirit and lives, and do not destroy it. Activities and materials that are a waste of time and money can be done without. Everyone should find their calling, or the place where their heart reaches out to. We should help others not because we feel convicted but because we love them.
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